Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility, Sprint, and T-Mobile US agreed to team with the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials and the National Emergency Number Association to improve the indoor location accuracy of 911 calls over the next six years.
In a new filing with the FCC, T-Mobile US argued that none of the current options for improving wireless carriers' in-building location technology--including NextNav's indoor location technology, TruePosition's U-TDOA offering, Polaris Wireless' RF Pattern Matching, and OTDOA--will be able to meet the commission's ambitious goals of more accurately locating wireless 911 callers inside buildings. And instead, T-Mobile is urging the FCC to consider other location technologies that fall outside of wireless carriers'' purview, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth beacons and other commercial location systems.
The FCC voted to require all wireless carriers and certain over-the-top messaging providers support text-to-911 services by the end of the year. However, only a tiny number of 911-answering centers across the country currently support text-to-911 service, and wireless carriers are worried that too many OTT messaging apps will be exempted from the rules because of technical concerns.
Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility, Sprint and T-Mobile US think that over-the-top messaging application providers should be solely responsible for complying with any requirements the FCC places on the apps to support text-to-911 procedures. Not surprisingly, they argued that wireless carriers should not be involved in ensuring OTT compliance.
Verizon Wireless hit back hard against the Find Me 911 Coalition, arguing to the FCC that the group was spreading "misleading" information about how often Verizon provides the most precise location information needed for dispatchers and first responders to find callers. Verizon told the FCC that it "does not take lightly such allegations and undertook an internal review of its own performance data in response to the claims."
The FCC is expected to mandate that all wireless carriers and over-the-top messaging providers offer text-to-911 services, but it's unclear when that mandate will go into effect.
New FCC data shows that around nine out of ten wireless 911 calls made in Washington, D.C., in the first half of 2013 were delivered without the most precise location information needed for dispatchers and first responders to find callers.
An ongoing battle among Tier 1 wireless carriers and location technology vendors over ways to more accurately locate 911 callers has spilled into the public arena, with AT&T Mobility taking to its public policy blog to lambast a technology test from location vendor TruePosition as inaccurate and misleading.
Federal regulators should refrain from adopting new location accuracy rules until indoor-positioning technology is truly ready for prime time, according to the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), which represents manufacturers and suppliers of communications networks.
Qualcomm is working with the U.S. Department of Commerce and others on a proposed 3GPP study to explore ways to improve indoor location accuracy through the use of beacon technology.